COP-28: the results and opportunities for Ukraine

January 06, 2024

Lolita Zhuk, intern of Razumkov Centre, student of Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University

The International Annual Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change — COP-28 — was held in Dubai from November 30 to December 13, 2023, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the UAE Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber. The conference provided a platform to discuss the efficiency of existing environmental agreements, generate new strategies and evaluate the effectiveness of the environmental efforts of the parties.

The main result of this global climatic forum, which brought together delegations from countries around the world, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, was the joint agreement of December 13, which provides for a number of environmental measures and innovations, including gradual abandonment of fossil fuels and achievement of carbon neutrality by 2050. The parties agreed that by 2030 the use of renewable energy sources should be tripled, and energy efficiency — doubled. At the same time, the growing role of nuclear energy in the world was noted. Unfortunately, the key shortcoming of the final agreement is the lack of mechanisms of coercion and responsibility for violation of the norms.

Both oil-producing countries and island states suffering from rising sea levels remained dissatisfied with the results of COP-28. The former opposed the abandonment of fossil fuels, since oil exports is their main source of revenues. The latter, on the contrary, called for more radical solutions. In the field of financing environmental reforms, the creation of a Damages Fund to compensate poor countries for the consequences of climate change was initiated under the World Bank leadership.

For Ukraine, participation in COP-28 was important for a number of reasons.

First. The conference was another opportunity to draw the attention of the world community to the environmental consequences of armed conflicts, including the Russian aggression against Ukraine. During the discussion "War on the environment: protection of dams and nuclear power plants", the Ukrainian side made public the data of Russia's environmental crimes in Ukraine. In particular, as of October 2023, law enforcement agencies recorded more than 265 war crimes against the environment and 14 cases of ecocide committed by Russia in Ukraine during its aggression. The largest of them is the demolition of the Kakhovska HPP dam in June 2023, which caused flooding of 80 settlements on the territory of about 610 square kilometres, the loss of lives and a devastating impact on the environment.

The Ukrainian NGO Truth Hounds also presented findings that confirm the organization of a whole network of places for illegal detention of people at the ZNPP and the city of Energodar by the Russian occupational forces, involving Rosatom (in this connection, it should be noted that Rosatom operates in 54 countries, and at COP-28 the Russian state corporation presented its technologies and tried to deepen contacts with European and global partners).

On December 9, the Ukrainian side presented at the Conference for signing the International Environmental Declaration, aimed at legalization of the Global Platform for the Assessment of Environmental Damages Caused by War. So far, 20 states have supported the declaration. 

Second. At COP-28, our country actively promoted the Ukrainian Peace Formula, which, in particular, is aimed at preventing ecocide and compensating for environmental damage caused by the aggressor. Negotiations and consultations with foreign partners were held in the Ukrainian pavilion regarding the 8th item of the Peace Formula, devoted to environmental safety. 

Third. The Ukrainian delegation joined the COP-28 Declaration on climate, release, recovery and peace regarding the growth of nuclear energy capacities and, at the same time, presented the draft of the National Energy and Climate Plan for the period of 2025–2030, which provides for the development of renewable energy sources and reduction of harmful emissions.

Fourth. Among the positive results of the Conference, a number of bilateral meetings and agreements with partner countries should be mentioned. In particular, Germany agreed to cooperate with the Network of Heads of European Environmental Protection Agencies, which is investigating the environmental consequences of Russian aggression and future recovery. With Japan, the mechanisms of implementation of the Memorandum on joint crediting for reducing emissions, signed at COP-27, were discussed. With Finland it was agreed to start cooperation for improvement of the state atmospheric air monitoring system in Ukraine. Talks were also held with representatives of France, Romania, Sweden, Czechia, Azerbaijan and Moldova.

Generally speaking, the COP-28 Conference gave Ukraine an important opportunity to present to the world community an impartial picture of the scale of the environmental consequences of Russian aggression and to put forward relevant international initiatives. On the other hand, it was an opportunity to actively contribute to the solution of global climate problems, including within the framework of the EU "green deal", as an element of Ukraine’s European integration at the new stage of negotiations on accession to the European Union.